Homeopathy can be a difficult treatment modality to understand. If you’ve never tried it, you might wonder how exactly those little pellets can be so effective. But many people find them to be just that.
In fact, approximately 100 million Europeans use homeopathic medicines—and even more in India. In France, homeopathy is the leading alternative medicine, and a good portion of Italians who use homeopathic remedies do so for pain relief. (Find more information about homeopathy’s popularity here.)
“When it works, it’s the closest thing to magic that I’ve seen,” says Dr. Melissa Gastellum, naturopathic doctor at our Los Angeles store. “The trick is finding the right preparation for the person.” We spoke more with Dr. Gastellum about how homeopathy can be a helpful addition to your summer first aid.
Homeopathy is a centuries-old practice that’s based on the concept that “like cures like.” Founder Samuel Hahnemann believed that by introducing a catalyst similar to the symptom, your body’s healing response would kick into high gear and speed up the natural process of getting rid of the sickness.
“Take an onion—if you’re chopping one, your symptoms are going to be itchy, burning eyes and runny nose,” says Dr. Gastellum. Sound kind of like allergy symptoms? “The theory is that if you take onion in a minute dose, it will match your symptoms and help you resolve the issues. So for people with allergies, they may do well taking homeopathic onion, Allium cepa.” (Find Boiron's Allium cepa at Pharmaca.)
According to founder Samuel Hahnemann’s original theories, the more diluted a substance (such as an herbal extract), the more “potent” it becomes, as the essence or energy of the substance intensifies. The potentization process involves diluting the substance, usually with distilled water or ethyl alcohol, in varying amounts.
Why homeopathy works for pain
From yardwork to hiking to swimming, spring activities can make us all a little more prone to hurting ourselves. For Dr. Gastellum, homeopathics are generally the first treatment she turns to for bumps and bruises that come from summer fun.
“If it’s an acute sprain or strain, I recommend Traumeel or Boiron’s Arnicare,” says Dr. Gastellum. She recommends applying Traumeel, a topical cream or gel, to the affected area 4-6 times per day. But, she adds, “I’ve seen the best results when someone uses homeopathy both topically and orally. As a combo, there’s more of a chance of one of those matching your symptoms.”
She usually starts people on oral preparations of Boiron's Arnicare at 30C, under the tongue three times per day, and then changes the dosages as needed. If they’ve taken those two and still have issues, Dr. Gastellum also recommends Boiron’s Ruta Gravolens or Rhus Toxicodendron, which are good when you feel stiff in the morning but loosen up with movement. If any movement is painful, try Boiron’s Bryonia Alba. And you can always speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about your specific symptoms to find the best remedy.
One of the best parts about homeopathy? “It’s incredibly safe,” says Dr. Gastellum. “Most preparations are incredibly dilute and don’t cause any side effects.”
If you’ve never tried homeopathy, speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about remedies that might work for your summertime aches and pains.